Two musicians, one singing and playing an acoustic guitar, the other singing harmonies and playing a mandolin.
"It was me and John, just sitting on a couch, and there's just one microphone, slung from the roof." The speaker is the charismatic bluesman Seasick Steve. The song is Over You. And John? That'll be the multi-instrumentalist John Paul Jones, formerly one-quarter of Led Zeppelin, and now a highly esteemed producer and collaborator.
Over You is one of the 11 tracks on Steve's forthcoming studio album, his sixth. It was recorded at his home, The Dog House, and at Nashville's Sputnik Sound. It's entitled Hubcap Music, and he is talking – in that inimitable, timeless drawl of his – about how it came together.
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"It don't take very long – just a few weeks. I don't wholly like making records," he admits, then concedes: "It's OK. We just open a couple of bottles of wine and start banging away. We turn the tape machine on. It's pretty much like the basic thing: if we get through the song and it sounds good, that's it. I'm looking forward to playing the album [live]. When I make it, I don't think too much about what I'm doing, but one thing I usually like is, if the song feels good, like maybe I can go play it, that usually gives it its stamp of approval."
Most of the time, he adds, the songs were done in one take. "All them country people, man, they make records, they'll do 30 takes of a song and have someone put it together, like a jigsaw on a computer."
Several of the songs on the album – Keep On Keepin' On, Down On The Farm – sound perfect for playing outdoors on a sunny day in front of thousands of fans, I tell him. "I like playing live. My goal when I'm recording – which is almost impossible for me but I try – is to try to do what we do live, on the record. For the most part, I want to be able to go out and sound the same. For me, the recording thing - I guess you need to make records, so people can hear it and hopefully like what you did, and we go banging away on stage and get a full circle deal going, you know?"
Now in his seventies, Steven Gene Wold is back on the road next month with a handful of dates, including Edinburgh. In late June, he returns to Glastonbury. July is festival time for him: Rotterdam's North Sea Jazz, Larmer Tree near Salisbury, co-headlining Canterbury's Lounge on the Farm, then Kendal Calling. However, there's no T in the Park, of which more later.
He delights in talking about the musicians on Hubcap Music. John Paul Jones's input can be heard all over the album. He plays bass, mandolin, lap-steel ukulele, fretless gourd banjo and, on the closing track, Coast Is Clear, some Hammond organ, which will remind older listeners of his distinctive keyboard work with Led Zeppelin.
"He's a master," acknowledges Steve. "He's such an amazing musician - He knows so much about the old kind of music, too. That Hammond thing - I wasn't even going to do that song [Coast Is Clear, written for his Norwegian wife, Elisabeth]. I made it on my three-string guitar [the Three-String Trance Wonder]. I don't usually make pretty songs on it. It was like, 'Where did this come from?' I said to John: 'Hey man, I've just had this weird feeling, like some Whiter Shade Of Pale or Like A Rolling Stone kind of organ on it,' and he instantly did it. I thought: 'Well, we have to do that song, then.'"
Talk of the Three-String Trance Wonder reminds you that Steve has a thing for unconventional guitars. He laughs. "On two of the new tracks, Down On The Farm and Freedom Road, I play - it's just these two old metal hubcaps, with a garden hoe in the middle, and it's got a barbecue spatula that holds the strings on one end and three engine bolts to hold the strings up. You have to play it with a slide. It's got a beer can nailed on one end and some old Christmas [decoration] beads." It may be hard to picture – but there is footage on the BBC website of him playing it.
"It just keeps you on the edge of the seat of your pants, you know? A lot of these [guitars] I play, they're really bad – they don't work very good, and I never know what's going to happen. I really don't know why I do it - I think it's about getting too comfortable, or complacent. When I play these things, like the three-stringed guitar, they're not really that fun to play, but they keep me crazy."
Luther Dickinson, of the North Mississippi Allstars, and formerly with the Black Crowes, provides a killer slide-guitar solo on Home. "Me and Luther are like soul brothers. He came over from Mississippi and did a little slide guitar, and we did a couple of shows together." The solo is great. He laughs: "I wish I could do that."
He enthuses, too, about Elizabeth Cook, the Florida-born country music singer who provides stirring vocals on another track, Purple Shadows. "You know where I met her? It was up in Scotland. We were playing in Perth, at the Southern Fried festival a few years ago, and she was on before us. We became friends, and in the meantime she has become well known. I believe that's my favourite song on the record."
Which brings us the last guest on the album: Jack White. The industrious White – he of The White Stripes, The Raconteurs and The Dead Weather, and a Grammy-nominated, Nashville-recorded debut solo album, Blunderbuss – contributes solo guitar on another of Steve's new songs, The Way I Do.
"He's one of my favourite people in the world," he says. "When he came and played – he's very serious about stuff like that. I never would have imagined something like that on there. It sounds like it comes from another planet. Now, I can't even imagine the song without it. For me, he's one of the greatest players and innovators out there. I just don't know anyone I like better."
Steve played T in the Park in 2008 and 2009, but is itching to return. "I've asked to play there almost every year but they just turn us down. That's one of my favourite festivals. We asked this year again, too. Usually I don't ask, you know, because I have so many offers. We ask every year, and every year they've got some reason. When we have played there, everyone's been so crazy and so nice. I honestly don't know why we don't get to play there. They're very nice about it. This year they said, 'Well, you don't have your record out yet,' or something.
"I love going up to Scotland. We haven't been on tour for a while, so festivals are one of the only ways we can go up there until we do tour. I guess maybe some day [T in the Park] will ask us."
Once the festivals are out of the way in the autumn, he'd like to do a "proper tour, getting up there to Aberdeen, Perth, Glasgow and Inverness or wherever - When we play up there, everyone is just so amazingly nice to us."
Steve and his wife live in Norway. "It's beautiful, but I'm not there very often. I'm pretty much travelling all of the time." He says the forthcoming tour – possibly towards the end of the year – may also include dates across Europe. "The record tells us what to do. If it does good, then people ask you to go everywhere. It's kind of like getting on a hamster run. Just when you're getting ready to jump off, it's time to start all again."
"I ain't getting no younger," he adds. "Hopefully in a year or so I can jump off and just stay at home. I'd really like to get another dog, but it's not fair to get another dog and just leave. I really miss my dog."
Hubcap Music is released on Monday by Fiction Records. Seasick Steve plays The Picture House, Edinburgh on Friday.